Aside from drinking your family’s combined bodyweight in Glen’s Vodka, covering yourself in glitter and taking selfies on your soon-to-be reacquired iPhone, three things come to mind when you ask the majority about Reading 2013; Green Day, Eminem and Biffy Clyro. These are undoubtedly the biggest acts of the festival, drawing the biggest crowds, having the greatest amount written about them and selling the most tickets. However, what about some of the less loved acts at the festival? What about those names where you have to squint at your laptop screen to make them out on the poster? Don’t they deserve a little bit of journalistic TLC too? Well, us at The Edge are a charitable bunch; so here is a list of 5 acts you (may have) missed at Reading Festival 2013.
It’s 11:50am, Friday morning. Many festival-goers are still reeling in their tents, nursing their Jaeger-induced headaches from the night before. Others are at Tesco, stocking up on any crates of alcohol remaining in the store (Carling). Meanwhile, in the Festival Republic tent, a small ruckus is brewing. Findlay begin their performance, and they know exactly what the people want. Brooding yet immediate garage rock, Findlay provide hard-edged, catchy, simplistic tunes that are littered with smutty imagery; like a female-fronted Louis XIV with an expertise in pop craft. Truly belting every song for dear life, Findlay produce an energetic and captivating set; by set closer ‘Off & On’ the pits are well and truly formed. The crowd have lapped it up. Maybe that crate of Carling could’ve waited.
Frightened Rabbit are hardly unknowns however with a mighty chunk of their crowd whisked away by Frank Turner on Main Stage and the NME tent half-full of the pre-pubescent neon horde awaiting Bastille on after, they were certainly underappreciated. Nevertheless the Scottish balladeers persevered with a show that rolled all of their songs’ emotions of struggle, misery and unrequited love together in to an end product which represented nothing but reinless joy. Despite being festival mainstays for a number of years this was their debut at Reading and from the look of Scott Hutchison’s teary eyes you could never deny their gratitude; something which was made further evident through their powerful and fervent stage presence. Storming through their 8-song performance, their set was short and definitely very sweet; as the flower-clad Bastille fans clapped and chanted along to the final refrain of ‘The Loneliness and the Scream’ you knew something rather poignant had just taken place. Catch them on 10th November at SUSU if you need any further convincing (not a plug, honest guv).
Big Black Delta
For a stage headlined by aggressive Magaluf-bait Sub Focus, Magnetic Man and Knife Party this year’s BBC Radio 1 Dance Stage had an undercard littered with really quite nuanced, smart, futuristic pop music, aimed around several timezones away from the general audiences of the tent’s top acts. LA’s Big Black Delta is just one of many examples whose jaunty LCD Soundsystem/Talking Heads synthrock meant a grand total of fuck-all to those hanging around waiting to hear Flux Pavilion, therefore falling about as flat as Felix Baumgartner without a parachute. However for those who knew what to expect Big Black Delta were a much-enjoyable voyage in to the leftfield; crunchy, organic beats, ethereal synths, distorted basslines, and bitcrushed, washed out vocals. Much dancing? Nope. An intriguing listen? Indeed. However, as people left in droves to venture to Modestep on the NME stage it became all the more apparent that Big Black Delta were handed a slot that for them was simply untenable. An NME or Festival Republic slot for next year would do nicely, thanks.
Whilst Foals were receiving a lukewarm reaction on Main and everyone in the NME tent were waiting for one song by Imagine Dragons, the ground of the Lock Up stage was being rabidly torn apart like an overexcited child opening his presents at Christmas. If you could see past the resulting dust storm you may have been able to make out that the band on stage was The Bronx, Los Angeles finest hardcore punk band. It was very easy to be sure that the band were having just as much fun as the audience; vocalist Matt Caughthran heading to the barrier with his microphone to inform “I am now able to formally announce that I am the new head of security for Reading Festival and that for the next three and a half minutes I declare that this is a free crowdsurf zone”. To decide which of his charm or the security’s faces of palpable fear were more entertaining is difficult; however they were both thoroughly amusing. Roaring through songs spanning from their debut to their latest album The Bronx IV released this year; The Bronx executed a brutal yet playful 40-minute set which never faltered. An unadulterated blast of adrenaline and pure fun.
And So I Watch You from Afar
Belfast four-piece And So I Watch You from Afar manage to capture some of the most extreme, contrasting emotions in music and amalgamate them in to one; soaring, beautiful post-rock textures, bewildering math-rock technicality and ferocious post-metal aggression. This is then played with an ecstatic intensity; to perform with any more conviction they would need a criminal record. As the crowd sing back their complex yet instantly compelling guitar lines the band members sing with them; the line between performers and audience becomes painfully small, the connection is truly palpable. What we have in our midst is one of the best, if not THE best live act around today. Crowd members in the pit stop every once in a while to exclaim “this band is so fucking good!” at the top of their lungs; ASIWYFA live is an experience that despite my best efforts, cannot be conveyed by words. As their set ends and the tent empties out, some people are bruised, lots of people are sweaty, but everyone is smiling. Remarkable.